Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Lives

Hutchinson & Co. (London, UK)
Series dates: 1923-1930
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

George H. Doran Co. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1923-1939
Size: 4.5″ x 7″

Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Lives, despite the somewhat gaudy-looking jackets, consisted of a series of traditional biographies, all published earlier by Hutchinson and other publishers. A number of the titles were included in an earlier Hutchinson series called Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Biographies published from 1903 to 1911. Both series consisted of reprints of “standard” biographies of notable people.

Hutchinson planned to include 18 titles in the series, of which 11 were published. Doran published the first six titles from the series in the US, oddly, under the full series name, Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Lives. It’s possible Doran did not want to go to the expense of removing “Hutchinson’s” from the title pages in the books. See also Macmillan’s Standard Library for another example of a publisher (Grosset & Dunlap) including the name of another publisher (Macmillan) in a series name.

An advertisement (below) from the back of 1923’s Michael Collins’ Own Story (published by Hutchinson) announces the first seven titles and 10 additional titles.

From Michael Collins’ Own Story, by Talbot, Hayden, Hutchinson: 1923

Titles actually published in the Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Lives seem to be fewer than those announced. Doran seems to have only published the first seven titles from the series in the US. To complicate things even more, it seems that some of the announced but not published titles were actually published by either Hutchinson or Doran (or both), but not in the series.

I include a year of publication in the series when I could find one (many of the books did not include the year of publication or included the year of original publication or a earlier copyright year).

The initial seven titles, published by Hutchinson in the UK and Doran in the US:

Napoleon, by F. de Bourrienne (H: 1923, D) #
Nelson, by Robert Southey (H, D: 1924)
Queen Elizabeth, by Agnes Strickland (H, D) #
Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan (H, D: 1924) #
Cleopatra, by Philip W. Sergeant (H, D)
Oliver Cromwell, by Thomas Carlyle (H, D: 1923) #
Empress Josephine, by Philip Sergeant (H, D: 1923)

#Published previously in Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Biographies

Titles announced in catalogs or on dust jackets include ten more titles. Only four were published by Hutchinson in the series (none by Doran in the US). Subjects (below) without an author and marked * are those for which I could not find an earlier Hutchinson edition (and are also titles not published in the series).

Titles with authors and marked * are biographies published by Hutchinson (often in the early 1900s) that don’t seem to have been reset in the smaller size of the series books. These titles are typically indicated to be 24cm tall in WorldCat, while titles in the series are indicated to be 17 or 18cm tall.

Wellington, by William Hamilton Maxwell (H: 1927) #
John Wesley, by Robert Southey (H: 1924)
*Madame de Stael, by Andrew Charles Parker Haggard
*Madame du Barry
*Queen Victoria
Nell Gwyn, by Peter Cunningham (H: 1923)
*Mary Queen of Scots, by  T. F. Henderson
*Lady Hamilton, by Heinrich Vollrat Schumacher
Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell (H: 1926)  #
*George Washington, by Rupert Hughes

One additional title that doesn’t appear in the advertisements or catalog entries for the series, but was published by Hutchinson:

The Life of Thomas Arnold, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (H)  #

*Announced, but seemingly not published in series
#Published previously in Hutchinson’s Library of Standard Biographies

After all this, it seems that the math is thus:

Hutchinson: 17 announced titles and 1 additional title = 18, with 11 actually published in the series (1923-1930)

Doran: 7 titles published in the series (1923-1924) with reprints as late as 1939.

Jackets for the series are unique to each title, with a color illustration depicting a scene from the book, in this case, Nell Gwynn by Peter Cunningham. This biography was originally published in 1852 (by Bradbury and Evans in London) and reprinted numerous times after that by a series of different publishers. While undated, the publication in this series seems to be 1923, the first year of the series.

The series name is included on the jacket spine and top of the front. The price of 2/- is on the jacket spine. The front jacket flap includes a side-ways advertisement for Hutchinson’s Magazine.

The rear of the jacket is a prospectus and overview of the series. Noted is the low price of the series, the “art paper” used on the initial pages (more glossy, higher-quality paper) along with its scholarly appendices (bibliography, chronology, notes, index). Titles are available in cloth (2/- net) and full leather (3/-). “Attractively bound with 3-colour pictorial wrapper.”

The ready volumes, at the time of the printing of this title, are listed (in red). This includes the initial six titles (see above) with Nell Gwynn (which must be the 7th title published in the series). Doran did not publish any titles after the first six in the series.

The cloth bindings have elaborate decorations in black on red cloth which is carried over on the title page in the book. The spine includes the series name, along with title, author, and publisher.

The half-title page is the first on “art paper” – smoother, higher quality paper. The half-title page includes the series name and book subject.

A portrait of the charming Nell faces the title page, which itself includes the series name and reproduces the artwork from the front of the jacket, framing information about the book (title, author, editor, publisher imprint).

The reverse of the title page is blank, and the last “art paper” page in the book. The coarse paper follows.

On the last page of the book is indicated “Printed at the Chapel River Press, Kingston, Surrey.”